July 04 2020
PBL: Rajiv show trumps Smash Masters
31 December 2018

Chennai’s icon player Sung Ji Hyun continued the momentum to put her team on the path of a commanding win.

Rajiv Ouseph struck a solid blow for Chennai Smashers by stealing a Trump Match from Ahmedabad Smash Masters in men’s singles. 

He won a three-game thriller whose outcome was determined by errors in the closing phase by Viktor Axelsen, anxious to prove worth as reigning men’s World No. 6. 

Building on a cushion of two wins earlier, Ouseph’s win pushed Chennai beyond catching distance at 3-(-1) in the 4th Premier Badminton League tie. Sung Ji Hyun proved too classy for Kristy Gilmour in the women’s singles, earning two Trump points. The final score was 6-(-1).

Famous name

Axelsen, a famous name on the European circuit and the 2016 Olympics bronze winner, had beaten his opponent en route to the podium finish at Rio. The quarterfinal loss on the Olympic stage was a faint memory as the Dane faltered. 

From 7-7 in the third game till match-point, Ouseph moved into the zone and with decisive play at the net and from the backcourt, celebrated each point won with a roar as teammates broke into cheers. The Dane netted a return on match-point. Ahmedabad lost for the first time in four games.

The Indians were at the receiving end in the first two matches at the Balewadi indoor stadium. Malaysian Chong Wei Feng surprised Sameer Verma, the second highest-ranked Indian singles player at 12 (after K. Srikanth at 8) after an intense contest going the distance. 

England’s badminton couple, Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, outhit and outsmarted the in-form Reddy pair of Satwiksai and Sikki in the mixed doubles. 

Rajeev and Sung took charge from this point, men’s doubles pair of Chris Addock and Sumeeth Reddy dealt the final blow.

Satwiksai and Sikki, complementing each other on court with leaping smashes and decisive netplay respectively, matched the Adcocks at the start before the husband-wife combination got into the flow. 

Satwik returned to the court for the men’s doubles, determined to salvage some pride for his team, but ended on the losing side.

Bengaluru Raptors edge out Pune Aces

Kidambi Srikanth notched up a thrilling win over Ajay Jayaram as Bengaluru Raptors edged out Pune 7 Aces 4-3.

Jayaram had never beaten Srikanth in four meetings on the BWF circuit. But that mattered little initially, considering the thunderous start that he made to the match which was Bengaluru’s Trump for the night.

There was no hint of the hamstring injury that derailed Jayaram for a good part of the last one year. Gliding beautifully around the court, the Pune man produced superb smashes to take the opener 15-10.

Srikanth rebounded in the second, riding on an array of attacking shots. Even though a late surge from Jayaram brought him back to 9-12, Srikanth managed to pocket the game 15-12.

The enthralling decider witnessed a spectacular effort from Jayaram as he made it 14-14 but Srikanth was able to sneak through by taking the golden point and with it, the Trump win 10-15, 15-12, 15-14.

In the women’s singles rubber, Pune skipper and icon player Carolina Marin was irrepressible in their Trump match against the 59th ranked Vu Thi Trang, a player she had never met before in any competition.

Using her lefty crosscourt smashes to perfection, the three-time world champion kept attacking her opponent’s backhand wing ruthlessly.

The Spaniard refused to relent and was in charge throughout the match, building up a 7-3 lead in the first game before closing it out 15-8.

The Vietnamese had absolutely no clue how to stop the lethal Marin even in the second game.

The Spanish juggernaut continued to roll uninterruptedly, opening up an 11-5 lead to take the 15-8, 15-5 win in Pune’s Trump match.

Earlier, two-time former world champion pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan gave Raptors a perfect start, defeating Pune’s Chirag Shetty and Vladimir Ivanov 15-12, 15-11 in men’s doubles.

But Ivanov made up for the loss in the mixed doubles rubber thanks to his deadly smashes that crushed the Commonwealth Games silver medallists Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith of Bengaluru.

Ivanov and Line Kjaersfeldt showed fantastic chemistry to grab a 15-13, 15-9 win for the Pune franchise.

In the deciding men’s singles match, B Sai Praneeth defeated Lakshya Sen 15-9 15-13 to wrap the contest in Bengaluru’s favour.

The results:

Chennai Smashers bt Ahmedabad Smash Masters 6-(-1) (Chong Wei Feng bt Sameer Verma 8-15, 15-14, 15-9; Chris Adcock & Gabrielle Adcock bt Satwiksai Reddy & Sikki Reddy 15-14, 15-13; Rajiv Ouseph bt Viktor Axelsen (T) 15-12, 7-15, 15-13; (T) Sung Ji Hyun bt Kristy Gilmour 15-11, 15-9; Chris Adcock & Sumeeth Reddy bt Lee Chun Hei & Satwiksai Reddy 15-11, 15-12.



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